By now it’s clear that smoking isn’t the smartest thing you can do to burn your money, but there are still plenty of people who smoke – including those who puff on regular old durries, or choof on a cigar, or smoke e-cigarettes (also known as vaping).
- Smoking a cigarette while driving is not illegal in some circumstances
- Some states have strict laws on smoking with kids in the car
- Throwing a lit cigarette from car can attract an enormous fine
The bottom line is that you can smoke in your car if you’re not considered a minor, and there’s not a minor in the car with you at the time. The definition of a minor varies, state by state – details below.
And you might be surprised to learn that smoking and driving is illegal in some circumstances, but that the biggest penalties for that activity don’t actually come down to the act of smoking – they come from disposing of lit cigarettes out your car window.
In fact, in New South Wales, you can be fined up to $11,000 and whacked with 10 demerit points if you throw a lit ciggie out the window on a total fire ban day. When the fire danger isn’t at that extreme level, a cop could still sting you or your passenger/s with a five-point, $660 offence.
So, clearly, don’t litter, especially if you’re thinking of flicking your dart out the window. It’s dumb, dangerous, and could – in some circumstances – be life-threatening.
Here’s a rundown of the smoking rules you need to know when it comes to driving and smoking.
As with many other jurisdictions, you’ll be in strife if you smoke in a car with anyone under the age of 16 present, as that’s an offence under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008. The aim of the law is to protect youngsters from second-hand smoke, which can be detrimental to their health and development.
If you’re caught doing the wrong thing you could be slapped with a $250 on the spot fine, and that applies to passengers in the vehicle, not just the driver. If it ends up in court, a magistrate could up that fine to $1100.
In Victoria you can smoke and drive if no-one in the car is under 18 years of age. If you smoke with a minor in the car, you risk a fine of $826.
In QLD the law states that smoking in motor vehicles is illegal if a person under the age of 16 is present, or if the vehicle is being used for business and more than one person is in the vehicle. And don’t go thinking that vaping is okay – the law applies to “all smoking products, including electronic cigarettes”.
SA’s Smoke Free Cars legislation calls on drivers and vehicle occupants to refrain from smoking in a car if a child (a person under 16 years of age) is present. The state may enforce fines of up to $750, but there is an Expiation Fee of $105 if you admit you were doing the wrong thing.
Much like the rest of the nation, WA wants its adults to act responsibly when it comes to smoking.
Smoking in or on a vehicle – meaning in a car, or on a motorcycle or in the back of a ute – is illegal if the vehicle is on a road.
“If you smoke in or on a vehicle when a child under 17 was present then the following fines may apply: maximum court imposed penalty ($1000); infringement notice ($200).”
The Apple Isle was the first state in Australia to introduce a ban on smoking in cars if a minor (a person under the age of 18) was present – that law came into play in 2007.
An on-the-spot fine, reportedly $120, seems chump change compared to if you take the matter to court, where a magistrate may impose a $2400 fine.
The nation’s capital follows the “don’t smoke with a kid in your car” mindset, stating that it is an offence to smoke or vape in a car, while on the road or in any road-related area, with anyone under 16 years of age.
The laws came into effect in 2012, and if you challenged the on-the-spot fine ($250 at the time), you could have been fined $5500 if found guilty in court. Who knows what that number is today, what with inflation and the price of ciggies and all.
Same story in the NT, where you can be fined for smoking, vaping or using an e-cigarette in a “motor vehicle when carrying passengers under the age of 16”.
You could face an on-the-spot fine of $298, and it could increase 10-fold if you take it to court and are found guilty.
Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.